That age-old conundrum: Time to Repair or Replace?09/12/2020
The typical lifetime of a UPS system is around ten years, as manufacturers are obliged to supply replacement parts for up to ten years after cessation of manufacture. Therefore, purchasing a UPS five years before this end date could extend the product’s apparent lifetime to around 14 years.
As your UPS system ages it will require remedial work to allow it to continue to protect your critical load, and throughout its lifetime may require several changes to fans, capacitors and batteries. However, when your system starts to reach its expected end of life, you need to consider what is the best course of action before purchasing that second or third set of replacement parts.
Did you know that replacement of capacitors, AC and DC, can be a costly exercise and although prices vary depending on the UPS system, it can amount to around 5-10% of the cost of a new UPS?!
Surprisingly, replacement batteries can also cost 30 to 40% of a brand-new UPS system. Although the standard design life of VRLS batteries is either five or ten-year they will generally require replacing at four or eight years.
For the reasons above, if your UPS is approaching a point where both batteries and capacitors need replacing, it is worth considering the potential commercial advantages of replacement versus repair. A new system will have a 2-year warranty, advances in technology mean it will be more efficient, making significant savings on running costs on both electricity and reduced cooling requirements.
In some situations, a brand-new system could offer a far better technical solution at a similar cost to replacement parts. For a mid-range UPS system, say 60 to 200KVA, the remedial battery works may cost around 5-15 kEur plus the cost of the capacitors. Suddenly, the cost of a similar sized replacement becomes attractive.
Often in business, OPEX and CAPEX lie in different cost centres. It might be easier to push through a purchase order for replacement batteries than invest in a new UPS which would offer long-term savings on running costs and provide higher availability. However, changes to your load profile and advancements in UPS technology could help to support your business case for a new UPS system.
Over time, your load profile will undoubtedly have changed, it is worth investigating the benefits of a true Modular UPS system which can be right-sized more easily to your actual load: why pay for a large UPS when you don’t need it!? The Modular option can therefore reduce CAPEX as well as OPEX. In addition, the latest generation of Modular systems offer the highest availability and continuity of critical power delivery. For example: CENTIEL’s 4th generation true modular UPS CumulusPower has 99.9999999% availability.
Here a total cost of ownership (TCO) calculation is helpful to assess the savings over the long term following a capital investment. Take this scenario for example: a legacy 200kVA standalone UPS only using 100kVA of power could be replaced with a 200-kVA frame with two x 50KVA Modules. This right-sizing using UPS modules reduces CAPEX and lowers ongoing maintenance costs too. In a recent TCO calculation: the energy saved by replacing an oversized, inefficient, UPS paid for a new Modular system within three years! The calculated savings over ten years made the decision a ‘no-brainer’.
Advances in UPS technology can also reduce the cost of future replacement parts. Legacy UPS systems have capacitors soldered on to pcb’s, where in contrast, the latest modular UPSs facilitate simple swapping capability via components mounted on screw in sub-assemblies. CENTIEL has designed CumulusPower so the DC capacitors only require replacement every ten years and AC capacitors every five-six years so can be changed separately to save costs.
When considering this repair/replacement conundrum, consider also how your business may change in the future. Will it grow? Will it always run at its current capacity? A new, truly modular configuration offers “pay as you grow” flexibility. Right-sizing the system initially, minimises CAPEX, while providing the capability to upgrade your system’s capacity with additional Modules. CENTIEL work at the forefront of UPS technological development and are trusted advisors to some of the world’s leading institutions in this field.